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Cars.com Followup Emails With Other Dealers Inventory

SteveD

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Sep 13, 2011
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Steve
The issue was never Cars.com.

Everyone does this, so the issue should be 'how do 3rd party sites use dealers inventory'. Dealers should ask to have clear contracts about the sites where the inventory would be used. So by Cars.com offering a choice the entire issue falls apart.

My argument has been that we need to give inventory a value and a copyright so it can be legally controlled. Feeds are nothing... you can scrape the data anyway, make up inventory, etc.
I agree with most of your points but disagree on the point that it is about cars.com. It is about cars.com - at this moment.

Are others doing it? Of course. Does that excuse Cars? Hell no!

Of the two main players in the classified automotive space, it appears that the more egregious of the two against dealers is cars.com. The other one should get a spanking too, but to my knowledge they do not farm out inventory that gets fed back into your crm as their lead like cars.com does with cargurus and web2carz.com sites, and they didn't send our prospects emails to prospects enticing them to visit competitor inventories. And they don't claim SRPs and VDPs that come from other sites (again, to my knowledge).

By making an example to the most offensive of the two giants, small and mid-sized dealers make a bold statement to "watch your ass, and don't take us for granted" to any other would be abusers.

I've already started a conversation with our AT rep (and at the AT booth at DD14) about how much of a slap in the face it is to have competing companies on our VDP for financing and how F&I are what helps keep us profitable and keeps the doors open. Cars.com goes a step further and quotes rate and payment from Roadwhores.

I told our cars.com reps in an email that what they are doing is equivalent to us placing a full page ad in a newspaper, who then distributes that same ad to their sister newspapers with boxes next to our inventory photos with text that says "Bad Deal" and then they place a box on the ad that says "Finance your next car with Roadwhores with rates of 1.9 - it is a better option for you than getting financed at the dealership".

I wrote that and much much more in my cancellation email to cars.
 

SteveD

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Also, by nipping cars.com's bud, we are also nipping the buds of dozens, nay HUNDREDS of illegitimate inventory grabbing sites (yes of course we have to nip other buds in this endeavor as well, but you have to start someplace).

By the way, Happy Mothers Day to all you Mothers out there!
 

SteveD

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Sep 13, 2011
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My argument has been that we need to give inventory a value and a copyright so it can be legally controlled. Feeds are nothing... you can scrape the data anyway, make up inventory, etc.
To this point, yes that has been a big part of my focus as well. We have been copyrighting our photos for a long time now. Now I'm thinking of adding some text in the photos that say something to the effect of "unauthorized use of this copyrighted material constitutes an agreement on the violator's part to pay us $1000 for each violation". Also to create an addendum to all vendor contracts that they must either agree to or we cancel them.

So I am with you all the way on those points. Lets do this thing!
 

ed.brooks

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Jan 15, 2010
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From Legal Challenges and Strategies for Comparison Shopping and Data Reuse - MIT
"No Copyright for Factual Data. Both eBay and Ticketmaster alleged that their copyright was infringed in theirlawsuits. The courts rejected the allegation based on the principle that copyright only protects the original selection and arrangement of factual data, but not the data itself or the effort in compiling the facts. This principle was established in 1991 by the U.S. Supreme Court in the appeal case Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Co. [1991]. Feist reused 1,309 of approximately 7,700 Rural‟s White Pages listings in creating its phone book covering a large area that included the service area of Rural."
 
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SteveD

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Sep 13, 2011
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Steve
From Legal Challenges and Strategies for Comparison Shopping and Data Reuse - MIT
"No Copyright for Factual Data. Both eBay and Ticketmaster alleged that their copyright was infringed in theirlawsuits. The courts rejected the allegation based on the principle that copyright only protects the original selection and arrangement of factual data, but not the data itself or the effort in compiling the facts. This principle was established in 1991 by the U.S. Supreme Court in the appeal case Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Co. [1991]. Feist reused 1,309 of approximately 7,700 Rural‟s White Pages listings in creating its phone book covering a large area that included the service area of Rural."
But what about photographs. They are not "data" per se. Thus they can (and are) copyrightable.
 

ed.brooks

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Ed
But what about photographs. They are not "data" per se. Thus they can (and are) copyrightable.
So Steve, any shopping comparison website could show your VIN and your asking price because those ARE data. You could deny the website the image BUT why wouldn't you want to put the vehicle in the best possible light?

Again, as I see it, you have two possible choices, you either you fight by keeping your inventory and pricing a secret OR you seek ways to leverage the internet TO YOUR ADVANTAGE.
 
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SteveD

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Because I might not want our dealership's name and logo sitting right next to some sleezebag's arbitrary judgment call that my car is over-priced or a "bad deal". Or their statement that the car is sold when in fact it isn't. How could that help us? It taints our brand and sends people to our competitors. Does that make sense?
 

SteveD

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Ed Brooks, we use vAuto. I asked one of the reps at the DD14 booth if the outbound feeds listed in our syndication section are the only outbound feeds vAuto sends. He assured me that was the case, that there are no other feeds that are not listed in our back office. Can you verify this information so I can have some peace of mind? I felt like the person who gave me that answer at the show didn't really know for sure.
 

ed.brooks

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Jan 15, 2010
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Because I might not want our dealership's name and logo sitting right next to some sleezebag's arbitrary judgment call that my car is over-priced or a "bad deal". Or their statement that the car is sold when in fact it isn't. How could that help us? It taints our brand and sends people to our competitors. Does that make sense?
That is the nature of the Internet. You either keep your inventory to yourself and pricing a secret OR you really seek ways to EMBRACE the Internet. The idea of trying to control the web is so "last century". I know dealers have been used to control; controlling the process, controlling the data, controlling the customer...

I'll submit to you, that the dealers that are really winning today, are the dealers that accepting that loss of a little control can be worthwhile.
 

ed.brooks

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Jan 15, 2010
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Ed Brooks, we use vAuto. I asked one of the reps at the DD14 booth if the outbound feeds listed in our syndication section are the only outbound feeds vAuto sends. He assured me that was the case, that there are no other feeds that are not listed in our back office. Can you verify this information so I can have some peace of mind? I felt like the person who gave me that answer at the show didn't really know for sure.
Your Performance Manager can look into the details on your account. There are some pretty strict internal guidelines about data. We really have our dealers' best interests at heart.